Are you a shrimp / prawn person? Well, I am. They are so versatile and readily available at most local markets and supermarkets, I find myself using them whenever I need to whip up a quick meal. If you are not a fan of prawn, you could try using squid, chicken or even tofu as your choice of protein.
How should I describe the flavor profile of these Chinese Salt and Pepper Prawns? Crispy, spicy and garlicky – you can’t really go wrong with these three combinations. The numbing effect comes from Sichuan peppercorn, you could add them according to your taste bud tolerance.
500 g prawns – peeled, deveined, butterflied
6 to 8 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
1 fresh chilli – cut into chunks
3 to 4 dried chilli – cut into chunks
2 stalks spring onion – sliced
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
1 tbsp sea salt
6 tbsp corn starch / potato starch
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Few dashes white pepper
½ tsp chilli powder (omit if you do not want any heat)
1 tsp Chinese cooking wine
Serves 3 to 4
In a small pan or pot, toast the Sichuan peppercorn over low heat without any oil to release the aroma. It should take about 2 to 3 mins. Be careful not to burn them.
Remove and crush them into fine bits with mortar and pestle. Add salt and mix well. Your Sichuan pepper salt is ready.
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for marinade together and add in prawns.
Mix well and set aside for 10 mins.
In a large wok or skillet, add in 1 tbsp cooking oil and sauté garlic, dried chilli over medium low heat until fragrant, approx. 1 min.
Add in spring onions, fresh chilli and cook over high heat until lightly browned.
Sprinkle some Sichuan pepper salt and sugar and give it a final mix. Turn off heat.
Add the prawns together with some of the marinade in the corn starch.
Toss them in the corn starch and coat each of them well. Add more corn starch if necessary.
Lay out the prawns on a plate or tray.
Heat a pot of oil over medium heat until hot.
Carefully add in the prawns one by one. Do not overcrowd the pot. Cook them in several batches if necessary.
Move them around occasionally to prevent them from sticking together.
Fry them for about 2 mins. Once they turn red and has a nice golden brown color, remove and drain on some paper towel or a rack.
Add the crispy prawns into the wok and turn on heat to high.
Sprinkle with more Sichuan pepper salt and toss everything together until well heated. Serve hot.